Post-Mortem for Russian Finds No Sign of a Struggle

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LONDON -- A post-mortem examination on the exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky found the cause of death was "consistent with hanging" with no sign of a violent struggle, the police said late Monday, after two days of intense speculation over the final hours of one of the Kremlin's most vocal critics.

The body of Mr. Berezovsky, 67, once one of the most important power brokers in Russia, was found on Saturday by one of his employees behind the locked door of a bathroom at Mr. Berezovsky's large home, which is set in extensive grounds at Ascot, outside London.

A statement from the Thames Valley police issued Monday, after an autopsy, appeared to confirm earlier police comments that there was no evidence that a third party had been involved in Mr. Berezovsky's death.

"The results of the post-mortem examination, carried out by a Home Office pathologist, have found the cause of death is consistent with hanging," the statement said. "The pathologist has found nothing to indicate a violent struggle."

"Further tests will now be carried out, including toxicology and histology examinations, the results of which are likely to take several weeks," it added.

To some of his friends, suicide had always appeared the most likely cause of death because Mr. Berezovsky was crushed over losing a bruising legal battle against another Russian tycoon, Roman Abramovich.

At the end of the case last year, the judge called Mr. Berezovsky "dishonest," "unimpressive" and "inherently unreliable," adding that he had "deluded himself into believing his own version of events."

The verdict left Mr. Berezovsky with huge legal bills and his reputation in shreds, apparently plunging him into an acute depression.

But because he had survived several assassination attempts, including a 1994 car bomb in Moscow, speculation over the cause of his death remained intense.

Mindful of the fate of Alexander Litvinenko, a friend and another critic of the Kremlin, who died from radioactive polonium poisoning in 2006, the police called in experts in chemical, biological and radiological contamination to inspect Mr. Berezovsky's home before giving it the all-clear. On Monday, his body was removed from the house, where forensic scientists continued their work.

A former mathematician, Mr. Berezovsky built up one of Russia's largest and most diverse business empires, including oil and media companies, in the 1990s after the fall of Communism, amassing huge wealth. Though he helped the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, come to power, Mr. Berezovsky swiftly fell out with him He claimed asylum in Britain and became one of the staunchest critics of the Russian leadership.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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